Microsoft’s AI for Earth program awards grants to support projects that change the way people and organizations monitor, model, and ultimately manage Earth’s natural systems. Depending on project need, the grants can award Microsoft Azure cloud computing resources (including AI tools) and/or data labeling services.
To date, the program has awarded 202 grants to projects with impact in 57 countries, and is committed to growing this community of grantees.
Fields of Research:
Currently AI for Earth provides two types of grants. Each round, you can apply to either, or both, depending on your project needs.
- Data labeling services: An important prerequisite for most AI projects is having an accurately labeled dataset to train your model on. Thus, the program provides grants to help label key datasets in our four environmental focus areas. All datasets that are labeled through the grants program are hosted on Azure and made publicly available to other organizations and individuals for training models. The amount granted is dependent on size of dataset and difficulty of labeling.
- Azure compute credits: If you already have access to a labeled dataset and are ready to start computing in the cloud and accessing Azure AI tools, this grant provides you with Azure compute credits worth $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 (depending on your project scope and needs). By being a member of the AI for Earth grantee community, you also have access to additional resources (technical advice and support, online Azure training materials, as well as invitations to the AI for Earth Summit for networking and education opportunities).
AI for Earth awards grants to projects that address four areas that are vital for building a sustainable future:
- Agriculture: AI can help in areas like:
- Land-use planning and management
- Natural resource conservation
- Sustainable supply chains
- Climate resilient agriculture
- Biodiversity: AI can help in areas like:
- Habitat protection and restoration
- Sustainable trade
- Invasive species and disease control
- Pollution control
- Realizing natural capital
- Climate change: AI can help in areas like:
- Climate resilience
- Extreme weather and climate modeling
- Sustainable land-use change
- Ecosystem services (including carbon sequestration)
- Water: AI can help in areas like:
- Water supply (including catchment control)
- Water quality and sanitation
- Water efficiency
- Extreme event (droughts, floods, disasters, etc.) management
- Healthy oceans
- Applicants can be affiliated with an academic institution, nonprofit organization, government entity, environmental start-up, or an innovative project within a company.
- For the Azure compute grants, Microsoft recommends that the main applicant have a demonstrated background in environmental science and/or technology, and that at least one member of the team has strong enough technical skills to complete the project successfully.
- Applicants should be close to or done with their data collection and ready to start with computation and model building.
$5,000, $10,000, and $15,000 grants.
- Submit your proposal using the online application form. The grant application includes an online form with two sections, one for data labeling services and one for Azure credits. Fill out either or both, depending on the resources you need for your project. For Azure compute grants, you will also have to fill out a written project proposal that is uploaded in the Files section of the Online Application System.
- The project proposal should describe the environmental challenge addressed, the datasets used for analysis, the technical solution proposed, and its potential impact. Proposals should be written in English and not exceed three pages. While there is no specific format for proposals, the guideline below outlines information that is important to include:
- Team members/collaborators
- Project summary: 1-2 sentence summary of your project.
- Technical component: The program is particularly interested in projects that use AI and machine learning. You can see what’s available at Azure Cloud Services. Justify the amount your project will need (you can calculate an estimate using the Azure calculator).
- For more information, read the How do I apply for a grant? section of the AI for Earth grants homepage. A sample project proposal is attached for your reference along with a list of current grant recipients.
NOTE: Process/budget questions which arise should be directed to ORPA and the proposal should be routed following the standard Princeton proposal process (Coeus, etc.)
The program accepts proposals on a rolling basis and reviews them four times a year. The second deadline for 2019 is April 9, 2019 2:59 am EDT (April 8, 2019 11:59 pm PT).